Clearwire Shares Popped: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR  ) surged as much as 10% after the company projected a 2012 profit after accounting for interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA).

So what: Revenue more than doubled in the fourth quarter to $180.7 million as 1.5 million new subscribers took to Clearwire's high-speed Clear wireless network, built in partnership with Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) . Analysts were expecting $195.7 million in revenue and a much smaller net loss, The Associated Press reported.

Now what: So why the run-up? Give investors credit for seeing the forest for the trees. Clearwire is in the tech equivalent of an annuity business that requires a massive amount of upfront spending. But if the subscribers come -- and by the look of last night's report, they will -- capex will be paid for many times over by years or even decades of high-margin service revenue. Akamai Technologies (Nasdaq: AKAM  ) has followed this same trajectory, with market-crushing results for our Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscribers.

Benefits will begin to accrue next year. Executives say Clearwire will be profitable on an EBITDA basis in 2012. Don't be surprised if, around the same time, cash begins to flow freely.

Interested in more info on Clearwire? Add it to your watchlist.

Akamai is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Akamai at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is at least 10% better than other disclosure policies.


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